Game Time. Class Time. Time Invested.

I had a shitty academic week, so I took it out on the hoop court on Friday night.

And then I wrote about it.

(I showered first.)

….

It’s the tempo of basketball:

the freestyle-the jazz-the avante garde method of thinking-acting-and-reacting.

That’s what I love about the game.

Wanna be a baller, shot caller... (Photo by Spencer Whitney).
Wanna be a baller, shot caller… (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

I’m 5’5 and to be honest- that doesn’t really work to my advantage on the hoop court. But I’m quick, I have good vision, and above all: I think really well on my toes. I adapt.

In the classroom- during discussions- I’m usually in the middle of the discussion- throwing out my insight. Another example of thinking on my toes. But when it comes to reading a 20-page affidavit in one sitting, writing an 800 word article in ninety minutes, or sifting through the shit-loads of emails we get sent daily… it takes a totally different method of thinking:

Thinking on your heels- (if you will).

It takes time. And seeing growth from time invested is a wonderful thing.

Through my experience thus far in the classrooms of Cal Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, I’ve grown.

Multitudes.

Clarification: I’ve grown = I’ve made mistakes… but those mistakes have been my lessons. My ability to spell, write, and take notes have hit a j-curve. My comprehension of English has grown to the point that I’m now understanding Spanish better, un poco. My eye for details in the world has increased my ability to dress…

(I got a compliment on my fashion from a cute girl the other day- go figure?)

…  And this is only the first month.

Yeah, there’s nothing like growth through time invested.

I bought a basketball a little less than 3 months ago- I play quite regularly.

I mean, I suck. But I’m getting better.

I like to hoop by myself with my headphones on- early in the morning, it gets the blood flowing. I also hoop with my homies- I hoop with random homies…

Last weekend, I hooped with my ten year-old niece… she made more consecutive shots than I did.

(She was in the key, I was shooting from 3) … (That’s an attempt to cover my own ass).

She shoots. She scores.
She shoots. She scores. (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

When my niece made a couple of shots- I saw her face light-up. And that’s why I like to hoop… There are few greater joys in life than seeing that damn ball drop into the net: swishhhhhhhhh….

He shoots. He ...hits backboard. (Photo by Spencer Whitney).
He shoots. He …hits backboard. (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

It’s an instant confidence builder. It’s a manifestation of one’s desperate attempt to calculate the trajectory of a leather-wrapped inflated object, through air, and into a metal cylinder… A cylinder that is only twice its size in circumference.

It’s all that intelligent shit… and it’s also Jim Jones’, slightly less intellectually-stimulating-statement of: “Baaaaaaaaallllllllllin,” which is a reference to financial success- and is shown through a hand gesture which originates from the follow through of a made jump shot.

Yeah: made shots- writing- my niece- the hoop court- the classroom…financial success.

Gotta make my shots.

"On the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool. And shootin' some B-ball outside of the school ..." (Photo by Spencer Whitney).
“On the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool. And shootin’ some B-ball outside of the school …” (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

Alright… that was a good post game press conference, I’ll leave ya’ll on this note.

Check out this video of this 5’4 homie getting stooooopid on the hoop court:

And on the topic of evolution/ hoops/ and making media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-OZI0-LhuQ&feature=related

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My Co-Worker’s Stance on Survival in Society.

A Black man, with a red hoody on, wearing a beanie, rode past my little Asian coworker on bike and snatched her phone out of her hand.

This isn’t about the $400 dollar phone. This isn’t about my “little Asian” coworker. This is about Black men.

 

Mosaic.
Black Man Mosaic.

I fit the description of the Black man who snatched her phone…

She might have said he had dreads- so the style of the hair differs. And on that day I was wearing burgundy, not red; but close enough. I’m not heavy set- I’m skinny. But mannnnnn, if she filed a police report I’d be a suspect… I could just imagine myself walking out of the office, mounting my bike (which I ride everyday), and  riding through the same area where the incident occurred … I’d be a suspect.

This wasn’t an isolated incident… There had been a rash of robberies.

 

Heavyset or skinny. Dreads locs or fresh cuts. We all look the same to cops.

I left out of the office, rode my bike to the high school where I held an after school program, and asked my students a number of questions…

“Have you ever been robbed?” … “Have you ever robbed/ thought of robbing people?” …  “Do you ever get looked at as a thief or criminal?” …  “Do they ever fear Black men?”

The conversation that came out these questions showed that we suffer from the thought of Black men being malicious, criminals, animals…  these were the opinions of Black male and female high schoolers… And myself.

On many accords I felt the same.

I’ve been in their position. As a Black man, I’ve been in fear and I’ve been feared. How do we correct this mindset within high schoolers? For my little Asian  co-worker? Or, for that matter, white America?

… Especially if it is something that is pervasive within our own people/ community.

My co-worker is a loving-fighter. A poet born in the Philippines. A Pisces. And an experienced educator in Oakland, Ca. She took the incident in stride. I recall how she retold the account to me, “For real, bro!?!” she yelled at the man as he took the phone and continued down the block. “I even called him ‘BRO’!… ” She said to me with exclamation. She maintained her stance of love.

She didn’t let one person’s actions change her perspective on all people. 

That was the answer.

But is it possible to maintain your outlook on life, after seeing what life presents? Fully?

Seriously… Don’t you have to change to the environment as a means of survival?

… Or can you change the environment enough so as to ensure survival?

…. Just a train of thought ….